June 30, 2010

The Indians Report, Yeah we still play baseball and until they add a down escalator we're the ones in last last place.


Hey they've won three (3) games in a row, consecutive that is. This year with this team it is quite a feat but the team IS getting younger and younger. I guess the Dolan's, the owners who want to play with the other major league owners but doesn't quite understand you have to spend a few nickles now and then are casting their greedy Scrooge McIndian eyes at their balance sheet and wondering who else they can sell off. I think the Indians still have a few assets they can sell. After all who needs a pitching staff. WISHFUL THINKING...If Lebron James leaves Cleveland perhaps their owner Dan Gilbert would cast an eye on the Indians. It would be great, the owner of the Cavs has money and loves to own major sports teams. Why not one in his own town.

June 29, 2010

Humans versus Machines



Very interesting. Watson, come here I have a question.


Jonah Lehrer notes Watson's flaws. The computer is slow on the buzzer:

Those players on Jeopardy are able to ring the buzzer before they can actually articulate the answer. All they have is a feeling, and that feeling is enough. These feelings of knowing illustrate the power of our emotions. The first thing to note is that these feelings are often extremely accurate...The second important feature of these feelings of knowing is their speed. As Thompson makes clear, it's the speed of these inexplicable hunches that allow the human contestants to defeat Watson...

The larger point is that we won't get a genuinely "human" version of artificial intelligence (not to mention more energy efficient computers) until our computers start to run emotion-like algorithms.

June 28, 2010

Save the Planet


Great place to find desktop pictures.

Train rides, oh yeah.


I enjoy train rides, but these days you have to look for them. Metros, subways and the like are one kind of train riding, but check out these train rides, a little more costly but what the heck, easy come easy goes, right?

June 26, 2010

Funky and the General

Is Tom Batiuk, creator of Funky Winkerbean, about to kill off another of his characters? The last week of Funky leads me to believe that Funky is, or has been killed off in an automobile accident. Just when he'd saved the pizza shop and fought off the temptation to fall off the wagon, at least I think he did.

Tom, you're great but what ever happened to letting the characters ride off into the sunset when you can't think of another plot to get them into and out of.

Next subject: The General

Every so often it seems we are doomed to relive history. In real life we featured General Douglas MacArthur, the egomaniac of the twentieth century who believed he could blow off the President of the United States, and now we have General McChystal who thinks the President is too much of a lightweight to take really seriously except to provide humor for him and his handmaidens. Good riddance General, and read up on the constitution and the chain of command.

June 24, 2010

June 19, 2010

Father's day cards I received, but hardly have earned.




I received three cards from my children (and grandchildren) for Father's Day.

The editorial cartoon at the top is how these cards make we father's feel. Justified? Heck no. My children are much better parents to my grandchildren than I was parenting them. There is a lot of psycho-babble available citing or blaming this or that as each generation reaches maturation and becomes parents in their own right. My one liner is that we live and learn from our time in history. I am so very proud of my children, they have accomplished much due to their own motivations and they demonstrate their love for their own children daily. If I could grasp any crumbs of credit for that I would, but it is they alone who take credit for all their achievements. If I am allowed to bask in any of that I will grab it like a thief and say thank you.

June 18, 2010

Incontinence problem LOL

I admire a good sense of humor. Being able to think of funny captions is a form that I find especially clever.

Team of Rivals


I have begun reading TEAM OF RIVALS by Doris Kearns Goodwin and if I am not daunted by the page count I will finish it someday. This website by a Lincoln scholar I think should enhance my reading enjoyment. It summarizes each chapter and goes further with questions you might want to ponder in a discussion. I'll settle for the summaries.

June 16, 2010

Black Hat

A visitor looks at the painting 'Black Hat' from 2010 by U.S. artist Alex Katz during a preview at the Art Basel art fair in Basel June 15, 2010. The Art Basel is opened to the public from June 16 to 20. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann.

June 14, 2010

Extraordinary role reversal. Sad but wonderful for both of them.


1937 BMW

What caught my eye was the date this machine was made. It was the year I was hatched, but that matters not. When I was about twelve or thirteen my parents bought me a motor bike which was kind of fun, but then they bought me a Cushman motor scooter. Now that was absolute fun and adventure for me. A friend of mine at the time (who died a year or two ago and whom I had lost contact with, I wish him RIP) also had a motor scooter, a Salsbury maybe. I forget the brand. But what I do remember is driving down country dirt roads on summer days and stopping to purchase a bottle of grapette out of one of those coolers loaded with ice and wondering where we should travel to next. Good days.

I never progressed any further up the chain, and the next vehicle I drove was my father's cars.

You Get Old

You Get Old

For any man who has led a vibrant, robust life, the ­realities of aging can be humbling. But as the author has discovered, coming to terms with that is one of life’s great empowerments.

By Pat Jordan


You get old, life gets small. Not meager, pinched, just small. You don’t buy groceries for a week anymore — two hours in the Publix, drenched with purpose, a grocery list that unrolls like the Dead Sea scrolls.

You get old, you shop every day, your list written on the inside cover of a matchbook. Two pork chops, a can of La Sueur peas, four corns (two for tomorrow), two rolls of toilet paper.

You never buy mangoes, avocados, grapefruits, or key limes. You just go into your backyard and pick them off your tree. When you were young, your Uncle Ben retired to Sarasota and immediately sent you oranges from his tree. You thought, How sad. Now that you’re old, you send mangoes, avocados, grapefruits, and key limes to your friends. You enclose a note, very serious, explaining that key limes are not ripe when they’re green. “You must wait until they turn yellow!” you write. You get old, you become an expert on fruit.

You get old, people don’t notice you. You sit at a bar, sipping your Jim Beam Black, neat now, no water, no ice, when a pretty woman in her 40s sits next to you. You smile at her, say hi. She looks at you and through you around the bar.

You get old, young guys don’t get pissed off anymore that you’re lifting heavier weight than they are on the preacher-curl bench. Now they say, “You sure that weight isn’t too heavy for you, sir?” They used to call you Mack. When you were younger you would have said, “Mind your own goddamned business!” Now you say, “Thanks, guy, I think I can handle it.”

You get old, you lose your anger. It takes too much energy to be angry when you’re old. You have more important things to do with your waning energy, so you hoard it like a dwindling resource.

You get old, it’s not always about you. You no longer wait for an opening in a conversation to talk about yourself, your dreams, your accomplishments. It becomes second nature to draw other people into talking about their lives. You’re no longer the life of the party, making people laugh. You no longer have that neurotic compulsion to be known. Why should you? You get old, you know yourself.

You get old, you need less. Less food, less booze, less sex, less sleep. One Jim Beam Black after dinner, savored, so that it lasts until you fall asleep.

You get old, you wake at 4 am as if to catch every moment of your fading days. You struggle out of bed, let the dogs out, make coffee, light a cigar, then go out the front door for your newspapers. You sit on the front steps, sipping your coffee, smoking your cigar in the darkness until Jean Pierre, the Haitian paper deliverer, as black as a purple plum, pulls up in his Toyota. He sees you and gets out of the car. “Sorry, cher, da be late today,” he says, handing you the papers. “No problem, Jean Pierre.”

You get old, you eat dinner at 4 pm, with your wife. You talk about the day, then save half of each of your pork chops, wrapped in Saran wrap, for tomorrow’s dinner. Your refrigerator is stocked with leftovers. Susie wants to throw them out in a day or two, but you stop her, turn the wilting asparagus, the sautéed mushrooms, a few grape tomatoes into a lovely frittata for dinner. You get old, you hate to waste things.

You get old, you see your wife in her tight T-shirt with the words ‘It’s Not Pretty Being Easy’ scripted across her breasts, and you get an idea. But it’s only three o’clock in the afternoon, so you file it away for future reference. When you were young, you’d put that idea into action anytime, anyplace. Now you talk about it with her, make plans for sex. She puts on her silk negligee before she gets in bed. Then you both begin watching Ballykissangel, getting so caught up in it (will Father Peter leave the priesthood and marry Assumpta?) that the next thing you know you’re waking up at 4 am.

You get old, your dogs get old too. It never dawned on you, when you got them, all six, one year after another, that they’d all get old, one year after another, and then die. Now they’re between 10 and 16 years old. Their lives are bounded by food and sleep and all the pills they take, which are lined up on the kitchen counter with yours. Glucosamine and chondroitin for their arthritic joints. Carprofen for their dislocated knees. You see them limping and press their knees back into place. They glance back at you with gratitude. You give them phenobarbital to forestall their epileptic seizures. Ciproflaxacin for their rheumy coughs and sneezes. They wake in the morning with you and begin to wheeze, sneeze, cough, like old men, like you. They have their good days and bad days, like you. You just try to keep them alive for a few more months, then a few months after that. And when they begin to die before your eyes, you feed them water and baby food through a big plastic syringe at first, and then fluids subcutaneously with a needle before that final visit to the vet.

You get old, you set goals for yourself that seem meaningless to others. Not to you. They are proof that you’re not that old. Your wife asks you to “call the man” to break up the old sidewalk in the backyard so she can plant liriope. You tell her you’ll do it yourself. She says, “Don’t be foolish.” You get the sledgehammer and begin whacking at the sidewalk in the summer heat like Cool Hand Luke. Then you wheelbarrow the broken pieces of concrete out to the front swale for the garbageman. Two days later, you can’t get out of bed.

You get old, your strength and stamina go. You mow the lawn, then lie down. Your wife comes home with ten 40-pound bags of mulch. You carry them into the backyard, then lie down. You get old, you can’t do everything in one day — wash the car, mow the lawn, shop for groceries, go to the gym, get a haircut. So you plan out your day like Eisenhower planning D-day. Two things, maybe three, one day, then two more the next.

You get old, you become abstemious. You never buy clothes for yourself anymore. You wear your faded Hawaiian shirts until they’re so threadbare they’re like filmy curtains. You trim little threads with a scissors. One day your wife throws one out. You moan, “But that was my favorite shirt!” She says, “Hoarding is a sign of old age.” You sulk like a child the rest of the day.

You get old, you get your hair cut at Supercuts, $12 for seniors, and then let it grow for two months until it’s curling over your ears and you look like a French diplomat. You were young, you went to a fancy salon, where the pretty blonde massaged your shoulders while cutting your hair, for $65 and a $20 tip. You get old, your wife says, “You’re not going out like that!” You say, “What?” You are wearing a ripped and paint-splattered University of Miami Hurricanes T-shirt, baggy shorts, and flip-flops. You haven’t trimmed your beard in days. You look like Jeremiah Johnson, if he lived in South Florida.

You used to wear $200 Tommy Bahama island shirts and $2,000 ostrich-skin cowboy boots when you went out. Your wife wore spandex minidresses and six-inch pumps. You looked like a successful drug smuggler with a high-priced hooker. You get old, you sell your cowboy boots to a thrift shop for $50 and buy the dogs new collars. You get old, your looks go. You don’t care.

You were handsome once, like a Greek god, with curly black locks and luxuriant chest hair. You still are, in your mind’s eye, even if your hair is so white you look like a ghost in photographs. You look at that photograph of an old man, and say out loud, “Jeez, I look like an old man!” Your friends call back, “You are an old man.” A young friend of your wife’s, maybe 35, picks up a photograph of you when you were 38 off the fireplace mantel. “Wow,” she says. “You were hot once.” You resist the urge to tell her, “I still am.”

You get old, small things give you pleasure that were once an annoyance. Throwing out the garbage, you meet a neighbor walking his dog. You pet his dog, pass the time. The mailman stops at your mailbox. He talks to you about his Brazilian girlfriend, then hands you the mail. Bills, a check, and — eureka! — four movies from Netflix.

You get old, you realize order is freedom. You do your job more professionally, no longer on the fly. You get a magazine assignment — go down 1,500 feet into a coal mine in Virginia, climb a mountain in Haiti — and you prepare for it. You do heavier squats the days before you leave. You fly out the night before your interview so that you will have time to settle yourself, prepare. You get old, you check into a no-tell motel close to the thruway ramp so you have easy access to anyplace you have to go. When you were young you stayed at the best hotels, with pissing Cupid fountains in the lobby and businesswomen on the make in the bar. The first thing you did after you checked in was change your clothes and hit the bar with your barroom smile. Now you go to Denny’s for a snack. Then you go back to the hotel and put your clothes in the dresser drawers and lay out all your notes on the desk so you can review them the next morning before your interview.

You get old, you realize your job these past 40 years was God’s gift. When you were young, you thought you were God’s gift.

You get old, you forget things, not because your mind is going, but because your memory box is filled. A name comes up and you find yourself mentally flipping through all those thousands of slides, trying to place the name with a face or an event. You forget trivial things — where you put the car keys, your glasses — because your mind is filled with more important things. Is the gate in the backyard secured so the dogs won’t get out into the street and get hit by a car? You never forget that.

You get old, you scream at your wife. Not in anger, but because your hearing’s going. “What?” you scream. She looks exasperated. She says loudly, “I said….” You now see the world in a faint haze, like it’s covered with a gauzy film. “Pollen,” you say. Your wife says, “You need stronger glasses.” You refuse to admit that. So you call the Comcast TV repairman once a week. He arrives, a young black kid. “The picture’s blurry,” you say. “And the sound, I have to jack it way up to hear.” He fiddles with the remote, then says, “The picture’s fine. The sound, too. Maybe you need glasses.” You stop calling the Comcast repairman.

You get old, you sell your 1989 Taurus SHO with the five-speed, short-throw shifter, the Recaro racing seats, lowered suspension, rear spoiler, 19-inch mag wheels. You buy a Lincoln LS8, with leather, a wood-trimmed dash, automatic.

You get old, you read the obits. You call out to your wife, “Jeez, Isaac Hayes died! He was an old man, I guess.” Your wife calls back, “About the same age as you.”

You get old, your friends are old too. Old ladies, mostly. Why not? You’re an old man. Betsy, 59, Ina, 65, Julia, 76, Helen, 78. You drive Helen to work when her ride is late. You drive Betsy to the airport at 7 am for a flight to visit her sister. Later, your friend John, 58, knocks on your door. He’s going to visit friends in Wisconsin. Will you feed his cats while he’s gone? Sure, why not?

You get old, your dreams constrict. You no longer expect fame and fortune, your face on the cover of Time. You no longer expect to write the Great American Novel, 859 pages. Your writing gets small. Fewer words. But cleaner, you hope. More nuance, less obvious. Subtle, you like to think. Like your life. Small essays about getting old. They please you just as much as if you wrote War and Peace.

You get old, you cry more. Not over your lost dreams, your sins, your old age, your impending death. You cry for others. You cry when Assumpta dies too young, at 30, in Ballykissangel. You cry at the sight of our soldiers in camouflage walking through airports on their way to Iraq. You cry at the sight of abused dogs and cats staring at you from the pages of newspapers. You cry when Betsy tells you she has inoperable cancer and she’ll never see 60.

You cry for everyone but yourself because you have lived a wonderful life, and you wish that every person, every pet, could live such a life too. When you were young, you cried only for yourself.

—-

This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Men’s Journal.

It will be called Facebook

June 13, 2010

Caravaggio's Card Players

Card Players by Caravaggio. I hope the stakes are not too high because the pigeons about to be plucked I think.

A Clever Head Shot from Flickr

Pitching Phenom Stephen Strasburg


Today courtesy of the idiot box, I will watch baseball's newest phenom Stephen Strasburg pitch his second professional major league game against my favs, the Cleveland Indians.

I will admit I am a little excited by the opportunity. I will of course root for the Indians, but I'm glad to be in at the beginning of maybe a great career or who knows, maybe the beginning of the end. I hope the kid does great but not against the Indians.

June 12, 2010

Bob Hope and many stars in 1942 with Eleanor Roosevelt



Bob Hope left his papers, including 85,000 pages of jokes, and photos like the one of a group of entertainers with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1942, above, to the Library of Congress.

I recognize some of the stars, I wish they would have listed the names.

Pre-WWII?

June 11, 2010

Pardon my Planet

Almost a great idea.

A Great Movie: The Grapes of Wrath



The GRAPES OF WRATH ranks at the top of my personal best movie ever list. Thanks go of course to the author and the exceptional Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell. The character actors assembled were all first rate. Two of the best were John Carradine as the fallen preacher and John Qualen as the actor who wouldn't leave his land. All in all a wonderful movie about a subject that befuddled correction. It took the advent of World War II to end the great depression.

June 10, 2010

Two versions of Leo Delibes Flower Duet from the opera Lakme

The Modern Mandolin Quartet



Vocal version of Leo Delibes Flower Duet

June 9, 2010

The Humming Chorus by Puccini from Madam Butterfly



To understand what the HUMMING CHORUS means in the context of the opera, go to this site and it makes everything clear, and maybe you will not detest the actions of the American naval officer who does Butterfly wrong.

The Gore families me too, me too, or me three.

I just saw this on the Internet. Holy Cow! It's almost surreal. A flashback to the sixties. I wonder if they were all sitting at Al's house one evening and for entertainment decided to take one of those 'can this marriage be saved' questionnaires and all of them decided no it can't.


It's shaping up as a tough year for the Gore family.

Last May, former Vice President Al Gore's daughter Kristin divorced her husband Paul Cusack. Last week, Al and Tipper Gore announced that they'd be separating after 40 years of marriage. Now comes the news that another Gore marriage is on the rocks.

According to two family friends Al and Tipper's daughter Karenna Gore may be nearing divorce proceedings after she'd been separated from her husband Andrew Schiff for a few months. The couple is apparently seeking counseling in hopes of reconciling.

Karenna, the eldest of the four Gore children, is an author, journalist and lawyer. She and Schiff married in 1997 and have three children.

Karenna was an active part of her father's political career, taking a prominent public role in his failed effort to become president in 2000.

—Andrew Golis is the editor of the Yahoo! News blog.

Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is a real occurrence experienced by us older folk. It isn't necessarily a step closer to Alzheimer's, but I think it is a game God has planted in our brains, a required content, kind of a little time filler to fill those moments with your wife waiting at the doctors office. A favorite category is: Who was that guy I served with in Japan, you remember the one who stuttered, you thought he was kinda cute, or while watching television trying to remember the actors name, I remember him from the fifties, and the game is on. One of the exercises for the brain are crosswords, good medicine.

June 6, 2010

David Farragut at Mobile bay

Careful there David. Farragut seems a little too nonchalent up in those riggings.

Little girl and dog

Little girls grow up much too fast, and they're gone.

Brand new railway cars 1904

June 2, 2010

Savor Life

The IPAD, KINDLE Conflict



Taken at a tech show in NYC.

I have been following the tactical war between the ipad and the kindle fairly closely. My heart tells me I want a Kindle and am only waiting for the next price drop. I have Kindle on my laptop computer until I buy the real thing. The price drop guesses I've seen are $199 down to $159. I will buy at either price.

Nightsounds

Last night I had a very restless nights sleep. I woke up several times, and thought for a while about getting up and reading at a too early hour. At least that's constructive, but it worked out o.k. Like most times this happens, it's because my imagination becomes too active and refuses to acknowledge that it too should go to sleep for a while. Anyway here is a little story I wrote after just one of those nights.


NIGHTSOUNDS
By Jim Kittelberger




"Old age is not for sissies." I'd heard that somewhere and isn't it the truth. I'd spent half the darn day doing lawn work. That was something that I could have finished up in about an hour or two before father time jumped me from behind, and I was exhausted when I finally put the lawn mower and weed eater into the barn. A nice soaking bath and a cup of flavored tea later, I felt half way human again. Television as usual offered very little to entertain me. After cycling through the channels one more time for good measure, I surrendered and hit the off button. "At least the remote was a God send," I thought as I remembered when we had to get up and change channels. But then again that was before we had so many channels to choose from.

I finished brushing my teeth, again thankful that they were still my own and workable, and headed up the stairs. I emitted a long sigh as my body welcomed the comfort of a good mattress. That was one of the extravagances that I don't regret. In our younger years together my late wife and I, unable to afford much of anything besides essentials, slept in a bed with a mattress that thought it was a hammock. But our bodies were young and forgiving. "Ah how great it is when we are young," I thought as my mind again took its usual course backward. My wife and I had fifty years together and I missed her greatly. At least when God came to get her, he did it swiftly and painlessly. I have that thought to cling to. When you are married that long and lose a spouse the loss is incalculable. But she is here with me still in spirit. I can feel her presence in each and every room of this old house we lived in together for all of those fifty years. The house needs work, more that I can do myself, but I wouldn't sell it for anything. She is here and it is where I will stay until I join her.

I took up the current detective novel I've been reading. It's a recent passion of mine, these detective stories. They are not too deep or too long, just enough to keep me interested until sleep overtakes me. The words were starting to blur even now, and the book fell out of my hands onto my stomach, my signal to put the book and my glasses on the nightstand and turn out the light. As the room became bathed in darkness broken only by the light from the full moon coming through the window, I heard the familiar night train in the distance; a sound I found comforting. My last conscious thoughts were, "Did I lock all the doors and windows? "Well I'm too tired to go back down, I'm sure I must have." I drifted off to sleep.


My eyes flew open. My ears had picked up a sound but I was not yet awake. I lay quite still, listening closely to what it was that had awakened me. This had happened many times to me in our years in this house. A strange sound, a sound that didn't belong, but on listening again turning out to be a sound from the street or the telephone ringing in the den. Any calls after eleven in the evening were cause for concern. Nothing good could come from a call that late. Usually though, it turned out to be a wrong number. It would make me angry but at the same time a sigh of relief would escape from me as I relaxed. Just when I was certain that it was an outside noise, I again heard a noise downstairs. I stiffened, and I felt waves of nerve endings rippling down my body. "Maybe I'm wrong," I thought, "maybe I didn't hear what I thought I heard." I lay stiffly, not making a sound, listening. The floor squeaked even as someone was trying to walk quietly. The floors always squeaked in this old house. Then quiet. My mind was numb. "What can I do," I grabbed for the cordless phone that my son insisted I keep with me. It was dead. "Oh for crying out loud," I had forgotten to put it back in it's cradle and let it recharge as I had many times before. I closed my eyes, as I would have when I was a kid. I was petrified. "What would someone want with me?" "I haven't got any money, but unless it was someone from the neighborhood, they wouldn't know that." "Maybe whoever it is will steal something downstairs and go away. Yes, that's what they'll do." Just as I had convinced myself that would happen, I heard a footstep on the stairway. "Should I get up and challenge him by shouting at him to get out of my house?" "Then he'd know I was awake, maybe it would be better if I feigned sleep." "I'm not a young man, whoever is on the stairs certainly is younger than I am, and certainly stronger." "Oh God what should I do? Please help me." "He's on the landing. He's coming toward my room. I have to decide what to do. Someone please help me." My body stiffens with a fear I have never known before as the door opens."


A lone policeman and a member of the rescue squad were sitting in the kitchen. The policeman asked the son to repeat what he had just told him. "Well as I said before, I became worried when I kept getting busy signals on the phone and decided to come over and see how my Dad was doing. He's elderly, but very independent. He would never leave this house. Anyway, the house was dark when I arrived, so I used my key and let myself in. I didn't want to yell out for fear of frightening him, so as quietly as I could I went to his room. I thought I would just peek in and assure myself he was O.K. and go home. He gets a little put out if I question his independence, as I said. When I opened the door, he was lying completely silent and motionless with his eyes wide open. His heart must have just stopped. I knew he was gone. That's when I called 911. The son sighed and gave a small smile, "I loved the old man and I'm going to miss him a lot, but when my time comes to go, I can only hope it will come peacefully in my sleep, as it came to him."